This weeks training is called Living in Grace. I love this title and it’s very fitting for my life. Because, surprise! I’m not so great at actually living in grace. Talking about grace, no problem. Understanding grace intellectually, not such a problem. Spouting grace-ish filled pithy statements, easy. But truly understanding grace deep within me and then living in that grace, seemingly impossible. So this week I hope and pray to continue working towards truly living in grace. A grace that will continue with me wherever we go.This post was scheduled before we left for Living in Grace so please forgive the silence for the rest of the week while we focus on our training and marriage. But please also take this time to note the new home of my blog: joyellen1.wordpress.com. There is currently a first post up and that’s where I will continue blogging once we finish our time in North Carolina. If you would like to receive or keep receiving this blog via email, please take the time to check out Finding Joy in Transition and click the “Sign me up!” button on the left hand side.
I don’t want you to miss any of the exciting news and I look forward to continue sharing with you from our new online home! 🙂
On Wednesday the 1st, if you’re on our mailing list, you received our June Newsletter in your inbox and the snail mail ones were mailed out on May 31st. I almost never send out a newsletter right at the beginning of the month but we have some great news to share. And no, I’m not pregnant. I still feel like I need to make this disclaimer every time I talk about “having news to share” with someone. So I guess the time I write…we have some news to share… and don’t make the disclaimer, you’ll all know the newsletter content already:-)But anyway, for those of your who have not read our news already, you can read it by clicking on the picture above or on our website under the About tab. We share the great and the not so great and there are some cute picture of us too, if I do say so myself.
I will almost always post our newsletters to the blog but if you want to receive them first, let me know and I will add you to our mailing list. Happy reading!
We don’t know what God is trying to teach us in this season of slow growth for monthly support or how God is at work right now because we aren’t seeing visible progress. However, we know though other answers to prayer that God is still orchestrating things to His glory and we are one big step closer to Australia (more on this in our newsletter that was emailed/mailed out today- you can wait until Friday when I’ll post it to the blog or email me to get on the list to see the news first!).
As many of you know, waiting is not my favorite part of life but waiting is a normal, necessary and often fruitful season. We are currently waiting on many things, our support being one of them. But even in this season of waiting, we are excited to see what God will do next!We have NOT made our last two support goals from the end of April or the end of May. We were hoping, working and praying towards being at 68% of our support by the end of May but we are currently at 60.9%. This is up only about $100 a month in pledges since our last update at the beginning of the month. Our goal from MTW in order to stay on track for our fall departure is the same as before but just more daunting now. We need to be at 75% by July 1st. And that requires $1330 in new monthly, quarterly or yearly pledges in order to reach this amount. This is just 13 families or individuals giving $100 a month, or 26 families or individuals giving $50 a month. But any amount is beneficial to our ministry, even if you can only afford $20 a month or a yearly gift of $240, this will help us reach our goal.
Can you be a part of helping us reach our July 1st goal? It’s easy to give by contacting MTW (Mission to the World) or using their online giving site: donations.mtw.org. We certainly appreciate one-time gifts. However, if you intend to give monthly, quarterly or yearly, please be sure to let MTW know and your amount will be recorded on our pledge report. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me or contact the donations department at MTW.
Thank you to everyone who has already been giving and advocating for us. We appreciate all the gifts that have been given and are so thankful for our advocates that have spoken up for us with their friends, at small group meetings and in their churches. If you want to advocate for us but are unsure of what it is, advocating is as easy as talking about Australia and encouraging others to get involved and learn about our ministry (Why Australia?).
Please keep praying for our support and God’s timing. We have a new sense of urgency because we now have a timeline for entering Australia. Please pray with us that we would trust God’s timing and His plan. Thank you for helping us get to Australia!
Please forgive the acronyms in this post, I’m not explaining them because they don’t really matter for the point I’m trying to make. I am simply thankful for the Church (capital C- Church) behind us and our heart for Western Australia. My goal is to highlight how amazing it is to be blessed by each and every one of these congregations and individuals. Even more so, I want people to know that we deeply appreciate everyone who is a part of our sending team no matter what background or denomination you come from, distance yourself from or claim to be now. The pictures and video in this post are from the wonderful congregations in Pardeeville and Rio who have loved on us and welcomed us this past month.
Grace Presbyterian Church– Pardeeville’s very own PCA church.
Ryan and I have had an ecumenical ministry from the very beginning. For those of you not familiar with the term, ecumenical means representing a number of different Christian churches or promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches. We didn’t plan things to be this way, instead it is just a by-product of our histories and how God has lead us so far in life and ministry. Whether PCA or AG or any other Bible believing, respecting and preaching church, we appreciate the value you bring to our lives.
Pardeeville United Methodist Church
Campfire evening with the
Ryan and I grew up in denominations that some might say are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as theology and how that plays out in services as well as ministry. For our first two years of marriage we attended a church from a different denomination, not because we were looking for neutral ground but instead because that was where Ryan was working and it was a solid, Bible teaching church that is also very involved in our local community. But that didn’t stop us from making strong connections with other churches from different denominations in the area. And as we continue in this process we find ourselves gaining supporters individually and as churches who are a wide variety of wonderful, Christ proclaiming, prayer warrior, Christians.
Ryan preaching at Rio Assembly of God– The church where he grew up!
We look forward to continuing life and ministry in this way. We recognize that there are reasons for some of the divisions between denominations but we also recognize that we have something to learn from everyone who believes in the gospel proclaimed in the Bible. It’s wonderful to know that the gospel is greater than these man made distinctions and we will continue to proclaim God’s truth and welcome anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of what God is doing in Australia to join us.
Pardeeville Wesleyan Bible Church
“It’s like calling a girl I like and not knowing what she’s going to say,” Ryan said as he was psyching himself up to call another church. Thankfully Ryan has a lovely wife now (if I do say so myself:-) and has no need or desire to call girls but we both still have the responsibility to contact individuals and churches while we continue to support raise. Each and every one of these phone calls, text messages, emails and Facebook notes require extra thought and prayer. We never know what the response will be but we will keep working until we reach our goal or until God directs us elsewhere.So as we continue this process, here are 6 things we want our current supporters and potential supporters to know.
- We wish there was an easier way. From the beginning Ryan and I have been thankful to have a long list of friends, relatives and acquaintances in our lives who care about us. We want first and foremost for people to be a part of our ministry through prayer but we also know that if everyone who reads this blog, our newsletters or generally keeps up with us gave $20 a month, we would be more than fully funded. But we are thankful to everyone who does what they can, whether that is fervent prayer, a smaller donation either monthly or one-time and for those many individuals who are able to and give more than $20 a month or even larger one-time gifts.
- Ryan and I do not enjoy asking for money. Now before anyone jumps on that phrase to remind me that we are “asking people to partner with us” or “asking people to join in our ministry” or any other way of saying it, I understand and we truly view this as a partnership with our supporters. However, at the end of the day we need money in our account to do our jobs and that funding has to come from somewhere. We know people have a long list of demands on their budgets so faithfully we will continue to ask. And prayerfully we will continue to trust that the money will come.
- We know that there are benefits to this system. At this point in the process we get to travel and see people face to face. Skype is good but there is something about sitting down for a meal or just hanging out. Also when people join us with interest, prayers and/or finances, we want to keep them informed and keep in touch as personally as possible. This is one of the reasons I blog, we do Instagram, keep up on Facebook, with newsletters, etc. We see the benefit in sharing our story with those who are invested in us. And we also love hearing from you and following your journey.
- Don’t be afraid of our phone call or messages. Please believe that we do enjoy sharing our story. We would much rather people be up front about their financial situation but that won’t change our desire to share and keep in touch. Maybe God might even change your heart when you hear more about our ministry:-) We are thankful for all our relationships and would love to make a time to see you face to face if we’re in the area or catch up by phone or Skype.
- We genuinely want you to pray about supporting us (and discuss it with your spouse if that’s applicable to you). Pray. Listen to God. Seek wise counsel. And if God is telling you not to support us or to support another ministry or give more to your church or whatever it may be, listen. But if you are hearing from God to support us, pray for us or advocate for us, listen.
- No is an acceptable answer. Or even, not now. Or even, maybe when things change. Or even, we don’t know. Seriously, it’s ok.
Thank you for being a part of our ministry in whatever way you can. We look forward continuing to share our journey and enjoy having you along with us on this ride.
This list is first and foremost for me, a reminder of why I choose to love this crazy, wonderful man each day. But I share it with you because I want you to get a glimpse of the amazing way he was created as well as the many ways he is gifted. There is a lot to love about this man.
#63- He honors his parents.
This month we are living with Ryan’s parents, yes we have a couple short trips here and there but a month with the in-laws is enough to make many people groan. However, I really do enjoy being with Ryan’s family and I especially love getting to see him daily interacting with them in special ways. He truly loves and honors his parents.#64- His Hands
Ryan often reaches across the center console of the car and his hand finds a place to rest on my knee. This is an especially comforting gesture on days that we fight. Ryan has amazing hands. Hands that make me feel safe and comforted. His hands that can speak to me with a simple touch, telling me everything is going to be ok.
#65- His cheesy heart.
Being in Wisconsin is always a reminder of how much of Ryan’s childhood shaped him. Although he grew up in Wisconsin and has lived in a couple other states, he most recently spent over 10 years in California. So when Ryan introduces himself he often describes himself as a Californian with a cheese for a heart. This description is a reflection of his humor as well as an apt description of his history that still influences him today.
Check out my April post for more reasons Why I Love My Husband.
As a planning addict, I’ve always been convicted when reading Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Seriously, Ryan says that planning is my love language. And I must admit that a thorough, organized plan is one way to my heart. But I have to be careful that my own planning or even the desire to have a plan doesn’t overshadow God’s ultimate desires and will for my life, day or even the next hour.This verse doesn’t say, “Don’t plan because God will do what He wants with you anyway.” Instead it is a gentle reminder that although we work, plan and make choices everyday, we lack ultimate control. But take comfort because the one who is in control is the loving, personal, creator God of the Bible.
So with this in mind, hear my heart planning our way to Australia in current circumstances. We hold this with open hands but ask that you would pray with us as we continue to plan and as God establishes our steps.
- 31 more days in our current support raising and training road trip. Please pray for hearts to be opened and our support levels to grow.
- Back to California for a week vacation on Catalina island. I grew up going to this family camp and Ryan and I are looking forward to a week of rest and refreshment. Please pray that this time would reboot us for the continued work that needs to be accomplished.
- Support raising milestone: 75%. We have been told that we should be at 75% by the end of June in order to stay on track for our arrival in Australia. Since we are currently at 60%, this is a big goal to reach. Please pray for diligence in asking for support and for God to surprise us with how and where the support comes from.
- A month in Brussels, Belgium for training. This may sound like a vacation but it’s an important part of the training process and what better place to do cross-cultural training than in a country where neither of us speak the language. Please pray that this would not be too overwhelming for Ryan and that I would be patient and a good learner despite having been through this training before.
- University of Western Australia: the latest we could hear about the masters program acceptance is the beginning of July. Please pray that I would be accepted into the program and that I would be able to apply for and receive scholarships.
- Travel in Switzerland and Germany. Since we’re already in Europe for the Belgium training, we contacted friends in the area and will spend some time after the training visiting people and even attending a German wedding. This is a great opportunity for Ryan to see more of Europe and for me to show him some places where I’ve lived and traveled in the past. Please pray for safety while we travel and for many fun memories to be made with our European friends and family.
- Back to California again because I am in a friend’s wedding at the beginning of August and then we have a full month of visiting churches already planned. Please pray for stamina and for God to continue to reveal what He would have for us.
- Although we have nothing scheduled past the end of August, this will be a time to work on our visas (student visa for me, spousal visa for Ryan), continue to raise the final support needed and make last preparations for our move. Please pray for wisdom as there are many decisions that will need to be made along the way.
- Leaving for Australia after Thanksgiving. A student visa allows you to enter the country 90 days before the semester starts. Please pray for God’s timing and clear direction.
We praise God that He has been guiding us and remains faithful. I look back at our newsletter from February 2015 when we shared what 10 things needed to happen before we moved to Australia and it’s wonderful to see how, by God’s grace, we’ve been able to accomplish 6 of the steps already. Despite the changes which include this new opportunity to study and learn at UWA, we see His hands at work. And we look forward to seeing how the Lord continues to establish our steps. Thank you for uniting with us in prayer and being with us on this road to Australia.
“Transcripts received.” “Can you please scan me a copy of your marriage certificate?” “Your application is now complete. If you give me the green light, I will go ahead and submit it.” These were the last three interactions I had with a liaison from the University of Western Australia. And after receiving confirmations from the university, I can now say that I have officially applied for a Master Degree in Social Work.We’re now sharing this with you so that you can join us in prayer. A masters program for social work in Western Australia can potentially open many doors for us. This University is in downtown Perth, right in the area where we would love to spend a couple of years. This is just an hour and 39 minutes from Brookton and Ryan could make trips out there during the week and the Wheatbelt could (hopefully!) be where I do any practical part of the program. When our eyes were first opened to the scope of problems in the Wheatbelt, Ryan and I both asked the question, “What can we do?” In seeking to answer this question, this program at UWA came on our radar. This program can potentially use my background in literacy and education while expanding my skill set to include other practical, tangible ways to help people. It can also potentially be a building block to help me connect the Yakima youth to the Aboriginal youth. And so much more. Please pray specifically with us. Please pray that I would be accepted to pursue a Masters Degree in Social Work at UWA. Please pray that our path and timing would become more clear in the next couple of months. And please pray for our hearts, ok more specifically my heart, as this season of waiting and wandering is particularly difficult.